The complex nature of Great barrier Reef. As well, it discuss the natural and human impacts on this world recognized ecosystem. In addition, it also discuss the traditional and contemporary management practices.
Great Barrier Reef is the longest reef structure in the world & lies along the continental shelf off Queensland’s east Coast. Great Barrier Reef is 15 million years old in the north & 2 million years old in the south. In1981 Great Barrier Reef was listed as World Heritage Area. It is a unique ecosystem of national & international significance that is under threat from a variety of sources. Great Barrier Reef is clearly visible from space & satellite. The imagery from satellite has helped in understanding the Great Barrier Reef. Great Barrier Reef consists of coral reefs, mangroves & salt flats, rocky reefs, open Ocean and deep sea floor habitats.
Location & Latitude
Great Barrier Reef extends 2300km from Papua New Guinea in the and north of Fraser Island (24 degrees south latitude) in the south. It consists of multiple reefs. Great Barrier Reef world heritage area contains most of the reef extending from Cape York in the north to Lady Elliott Island in the south.
Great Barrier Reef composed of 2900 individual reefs, Reefs range in size from a few thousand sq metres up to 120 sq kilometres. Great Barrier Reef includes 600 Islands. Great Barrier Park Marine Park covers an area of 348 700 sq kilometres.
Great Barrier Reef has four regional variations. They are as follows.
In northern region continental shelf is at its narrowest no more then 50 killometers wide. In this region ribbon reefs on the edge of the continental shelf extend to south Cairns. As well, in this region, ribbon reefs are 25 km long & 500metre wide & are separated by channels.In northern region westward of the ribbon reefs the continental shelf has platform reefs & a variety of patch reefs & low wooded isles.
In central region continental shelf widens. In central region, scattered patch reefs & crescent reefs that are orientated towards the predominant south.
In Mackey region continental shelf is widest at 300 km. Pompey & Swain are the dominant reefs.
The southern region consists of a chain of 22 reefs. Continental shelf narrows in Southern region.
In southern region many of the reefs are vegetated.
Corals consist of tiny animals called coral polyps. They have a symbiotic relationship with the microscopic single celled plants. Process waste material from the coral polyp & through photosynthesis produce oxygen & helps the polyp form its calcium carbonate exoskeleton. Coral polyps grow over old corals & build up thick layers over time. Corals feed at night by filtering microscopic zooplankton.